My Cellphone, My Mistress

How to banish it from the bedroom, once and for all.

What’s the last thing you touch before you go to bed? And what’s the very first thing you do when you wake up? For most of us, the answer is: hold our phone, cradle and caress it, our pre-programmed fingers darting from email to text messages to Facebook to this and that and this and that.

Before the rise of the smartphone, my husband and I enjoyed “us” conversation before drifting off to sleep seven days a week. We’d share seemingly insignificant stories about our days, ask each other probing questions, laugh about future adventures to be had. But—with the ever-present excuse of work and our never-ending to-do lists — we both had a formidable mistress in bed with us: the very sexy cellphone.

She was ever-charged and ever-ready with a fount of free-flowing information and a plethora of vibrating distractions. She was more talkative, more stimulating, and just so much *more* than anything we had to offer each other by day’s end. So, night after night, we’d fall into her merciless trap — and lose ourselves in her salacious grasp.

As a couple, we were all over the place, restless, and we’d lost our once connected “us-ness.” There was no real time off, because our devices were always on. The only uninterrupted time we had to talk—or ahem—was gobbled up by screens and memes and reams of text messages. Something had to change; we couldn’t go on like this. We still had to honor our commitment to be each other’s person in good times and in bad, and through everything in between.

That’s when we decided to create our very own sacred, no tech, no gadgets, no laptops zone in just one room in our house — our bedroom. Cautiously, we removed all the tangled wires, charging devices, laptops, cables, and yes, gasp, the cellphones from our bedside tables. At first, it seemed unimaginable, but we did it wholeheartedly.

All that was left was the bed, our cozy pillows and duvet, the lush carpet and two bedside tables with a giant water jug, a vintage alarm clock, and some cherry chapstick. It was a clean, totally unplugged haven. The air felt instantly unburdened, free from to-do-ness.

Now, when the children have gone to sleep, and the dishes have become the dishwasher’s responsibility — we make our way upstairs to our bedroom — to spend time together as us, just us. Time moves slowly and we can hear each other breathe. It’s delicious and so free of any kind of mental clutter. We sleep soundly, intertwined under a blanket of good old-fashioned grace.